In the last year, I have been the keynote speaker for three different conferences of funeral and crematorium directors.
As with any industry, I’ve focused on the wide variety of trends that will impact them — and yes, I’ve provided them guidance on innovation and creativity. These folks are the “ultimate event planners” — they are called upon to organize extremely complex affairs in a dramatically short time in very difficult circumstances. We could all learn from their resourcefulness.
One of the trends I’ve spoken to them about is what I’d come to call “the new mourning” — that is, how the younger generation I call Gen-Connect has a different relationship with the process of mourning.
We’ve all seen it; 9/11, Virginia Tech and elsewhere — spontaneous, large public gatherings, where people deal with an unforeseen tragedy by coming together. Technology — cell phones, instant messaging, email — results in an often instant and large-scale social means of dealing with tragedy.
It’s one thing to talk about a trend; it’s another thing when you witness it literally in your backyard. Ten days ago, a young rugby player died after an altercation near the end of the game — at the high school that my home office looks onto. My son and I had been at the game just ten minutes prior. When we heard the sirens, we knew that something was not good.
Through the next six days, I came to witness firsthand the ‘new mourning,’ as his teammates, classmates, teachers, friends, neighbors and strangers gathered in various ways, at various times, spontaneously, instantly, silently. My son went to school with his younger brother; we visited the memorial that the kids assembled, several times.
Earlier this week, the kids at the school returned to the field, and played a game. The neighborhood has laughter, cheers, noise and happiness once again, but the neighborhood has also forever changed.
As someone who speaks on trends and the future, I do know this: the new mourning is very, very real, quite substantially different — and is yet another example of how quickly our world around us is changing.